Financial Problems, Illegal Money Lending and Loan Sharking

Financial Problems

Overall, nearly two-thirds (63%) of UK adults have been concerned about a friend, family member or colleague’s mental wellbeing, linked to money worries

Of those who have been worried, the most common signs include changes in mood and temperament trouble sleeping, and being anxious, stressed or lacking in confidence to contact the bank or creditors.

You can use the LEPH approach to look out for these signs and enable people to access help, guidance and advice on mental health, debt and money management. There is a wide range of guidance available from the Money Helper website which has been incorporated into LEPH Link.

Illegal Money Lending and Loan Sharking

Illegal Money Lending is money lending by people who aren't authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA)  It is a criminal offence to offer loans as a business without having a permission from the FCA holding a sentence of 2 years imprisonment. Illegal money lenders are also known as loan sharks.

Loan sharks often work from home, charge very high rates of interest and don't give individuals paperwork to confirm the arrangements they have made. Loan sharks may take other illegal action to collect the money they have lent a person, such as threatening violence or taking away credit cards or valuables. In extreme cases, they have been known to force non-payers into prostitution and crime.

You may be the first person to take information from a victim of illegal money lending. Victims are often vulnerable, scared, worried and stressed as loan sharks are very controlling, can threaten victims’ families, damage property and carry the ‘fear factor’ to enforce the loan payments.  Victims usually pay back at least double what they have borrowed and once trapped by the loan shark debt the cycle is hard to break. 

Very Brief Intervention


Empathise that its normal to worry about money issues but reassure that there is lots of free help available - See the ACT section for details of national organisations and ASSIST for a list of local services

Do you have any worries relating to money, budgeting, borrowing or debt?

For Debt

Are you worried about a current debt that you can no longer manage?

Are you concerned about managing debt from a Money Lender?

The England Illegal Money Lending Team (EIMLT) is a national Trading Standards Team with a remit to prosecute loan sharks and to support victims of the crime and have a 24 hour helpline for officer to obtain advice and for victim support. Details are found in the ACT section.

Are you being threatened or harassed in relation to money you have borrowed?

Did you know that there is lots of free debt advice services available across the UK, would you like further information on these?

Re-assure them that a debt adviser will never judge them or make them feel bad about their situation and that they will work with the person to find way find ways to manage their debts even if they think they have no spare money.

Re-assure them that most people who have get debt advice feel less stressed or anxious and more in control of their life again.

For Borrowing

Before borrowing money have you considered if

  • You need to spend the money
  • You have other ways of financing the purchase, and
  • You can afford to pay back the money you’re planning to borrow

If you need to borrow money, have you considered the cost of borrowing and where you would source this from?

Money Helper has advice on different sources of borrowing as well as advice on good debt and bad debt, would you like some further information on this?

For Budgeting

How confident are you about a budget setting, sticking to it and how to save?

Did you know that Money Advice Service provides a range of management tips, including how to set up a budget, sticking to it and how to save, would you like some further information on this?


Local Services

What you can do to help depends on the particular circumstances and needs of the individual. Is this person a victim of illegal money lending or do they need another form of support relating to finance problems and debt management?

Please click on your regional links below for information about finance and debt support services relating to your locality.


National Support Services

The England Illegal Money Lending Team  (EIMLT) STOP LOAN SHARKS

EIMLT is a national Trading Standards Team with a remit to prosecute loan sharks and to support victims of the crime.  The team uses the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000 to obtain warrants and has the power to enter properties, seize evidence, arrest, charge and prosecute criminals acting as loan sharks. IMLT will investigate and prosecute for all crimes that are linked to illegal money lending and provide full support to victims who at the point of reporting have often reached their crisis point and urgently need the help. 

Tel: 0300 555 2222 – 24 hours – report, guidance and support

Live Chat: 9am to 5pm Monday to Friday via website -



Money Helper

Free and impartial money advice, set up by government

  • Advice and guides to help improve your finances
  • Tools and calculators to help keep track and plan ahead
  • Support over the phone and online

Tel:  0800 011 3797 Monday to Friday 8am-6pm



Typetalk: 18001 0800 915 4622 Monday to Friday, 8am to 6pm, Saturday, Sunday and Bank Holidays, closed

Citizens Advice Service

The Citizens Advice Service can help you to make the right choices, including help to deal with your debt problems, how to avoid losing your home and how to get your finances back into shape.  Citizens Advice also offer advice on Benefits and Tax credits as it's important to make sure that you get all the help that you're entitled to

Tel: 03444 111 444 – Monday - Friday: 8am -7pm


National Debtline

National Debtline has helped millions of people with their debts. They'll talk peopl through options and give clear advice on how to take back control.

Tel: 0808 808 4000 – Monday – Friday: 9am – 8pm, Saturday: 09:30 -1pm

Web: web chat via the website

StepChange Debt Charity

Their expert advice helps people deal with their debts and get the support they need. Advice is given online or over the phone, and advisers will recommend a range of practical debt solutions based on the individual's situation..

Tel: 0800 138 1111 Monday to Friday 8am to 8pm and Saturday 8am to 4pm



PayPlan's supportive, non-judgemental team of advisers help thousands of people beat their debts every year, and treat all of their calls with the strictest confidence.

Tel: 0800 280 2816 - Monday – Friday: 8am – 8pm, Saturday 9am – 3pm


Debt Advice Foundation

Debt Advice Foundation is a national debt advice and education charity offering free, confidential support and advice to anyone worried about debt.

Tel: 0800 622 61 51


Credit Unions

Credit unions offer an alternative to traditional banks and building societies for saving and borrowing. 

They're there to provide a financial community. Credit Unions can help those who can't get access to ordinary bank products; a lifeline in less well-off communities for people grappling with their finances.


Local Support and Contact Details